Scuffling For Sleep: Let’s Get Acquainted What Is Insomnia?

Every human must have experienced a varied degree of restless sleepless nights in their life. It is one of the most prevalent phenomena of sleep disorders worldwide. So, let’s go through an in depth view of  “What is insomnia?” Insomnia is defined as a sleep disorder in which a person has trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or getting good quality sleep despite having the time and the right environment to sleep well. Insomnia can create havoc in your daily activities if ignored over a long period of time.

Types of Insomnia

There are two main ways that experts use to put insomnia into categories:

  • Time : Experts classify insomnia as acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term). The chronic form is known as insomnia disorder.
  • Cause : Primary insomnia means it happens on its own and is not caused by any other medical condition. Secondary insomnia is referred to as a symptom of another medical condition (asthma, cancer, depression, stress,  or circumstance (like pain, drug abuse, alcohol, etc).

How common is Insomnia?

Both the acute and chronic forms of insomnia are very common. Roughly, 1 in 3 adults worldwide have insomnia symptoms, and about 10% of adults meet the criteria for insomnia disorder.


It’s a sleep disorder characterized by difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or both, despite having the opportunity for adequate sleep. It can lead to various daytime impairments such as fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and mood disturbances. Insomnia can be acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term). 

Causes of insomnia can be multifactorial, including stress, anxiety, depression, medical conditions, medications, caffeine or other stimulants, irregular sleep schedules, or poor sleep habits. Certain lifestyle factors like excessive screen time before bed, irregular sleep schedules, and environmental factors such as noise or light can also contribute to sleeplessness. 

INSOMNIA SYMPTOMS : What Is Insomnia ?

Now, we focus on signs and symptoms which can tell you that you might be suffering from sleeplessness, these are : 

  • Sleepy feeling during day hours
  • Fatigue
  • Grumpiness
  • Irritation
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of concentration and focus.
  • Disturbed memory

Complications of Insomnia

Our bodies and brains need sleep in order to repair themselves. Sleep is also crucial for learning and keeping memories. If sleeplessness is keeping you awake, you could face various complications like : 

  • A higher risk of other health problems like high blood pressure, obesity, and depression.
  • A higher risk of fall esp in older women which can cause hip dislocation, ankle fractures, etc.
  • Trouble focusing
  • Anxiety
  • Grumpiness


Why does insomnia happen? According to experts this condition can involve many factors. Some of these factors could be causes or they could simply contribute to it. Exact cause of sleeplessness is difficult to find and still needs lots of research.

The factors that could cause or contribute include the following:

  • Family History (Genetics) : over the years it has been that sleep traits and conditions, including insomnia, seem to run in families.
  • Brain Activity : People with insomnia may have more active brains or brain chemistry differences that affect their ability to sleep.
  • Medical Conditions : Your physical health can affect your ability to sleep to a great extent. This can include temporary illnesses like minor infections or injuries, or chronic conditions like acid reflux or Parkinson’s disease. Conditions that affect your circadian rhythm, your body’s natural sleep or wake clock, are also noticeable precipitating factors.
  • Mental Health Conditions : mental health conditions, like anxiety or depression are very common causative factors, in about 50% of the cases, of chronic insomnia.
  • External Environment : difficult life circumstances, traveling, work schedules, night shifts, too much exposure to gadgets and screen time, etc  may not necessarily cause insomnia, but it’s very common for them to contribute to it.
  • Lifestyle : Your sleeping habits (also known as sleep hygiene) can contribute to insomnia. That includes whether or not you take naps, when you go to sleep, if and when you consume caffeine, and other habits. Other lifestyle factors like diet, exercise, addictions also affect your sleep majorly.


Treatment for insomnia often involves addressing underlying causes and making lifestyle changes to improve sleep hygiene. Cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) is a highly effective non-pharmacological treatment that focuses on changing behaviors and thoughts that contribute to sleeplessness. In some cases, medications such as sedative-hypnotics may be prescribed, but they are usually considered a short-term solution due to potential dependence and side effects. A simple layout to treat insomnia includes 

  • Developing and practicing good sleep habits (also known as sleep hygiene).
  • Medications that help you fall or stay asleep (especially ones that aren’t habit-forming or that might otherwise affect your sleep).
  • Mental healthcare.

Medications that help you fall or stay asleep

  • Sedative drugs: These get their name from a Latin word that means “to settle.” They reduce nervous system activity.
  • Hypnotic drugs: These get their name from Hypnos, the Greek god of sleep. These make you sleepy.

Prescription Drugs Used In Insomnia

Controlled drug types include:

  • Benzodiazepines : Examples estazolam, quazepam (Doral), temazepam (Restoril) and triazolam (Halcion).
  • “Z-drugs”: The most common of these include eszopiclone (Lunesta), zaleplon (Sonata) and zolpidem (Ambien).
  • Dual orexin receptor antagonists (DORAs) : Orexin is a wake-promoting chemical in your brain. Blocking orexin helps make you sleepy. Examples of these include suvorexant (Belsomra), lemborexant (Dayvigo) and daridorexant (Quviq).
  • Anti Seizure medications: include gabapentin (Neurontin) and pregabalin (Lyrica), which can help with conditions like restless leg syndrome, which can keep you awake.

Non Controlled drug types include:

  • Sedating antidepressants: These include tricyclic antidepressant (TCA) drugs like doxepin (Silenor) and amitriptyline (Elavil), and trazodone.
  • Melatonin and related drugs : Melatonin is a chemical that the brain uses to tell you it’s time to go to sleep. It can come in prescription strength and lower strengths. There are also synthetic drugs that work similarly to melatonin, including ramelteon (Rozerem)

Nonprescription drugs for insomnia

Antihistamine drugs, which treat allergies, can also make you sleepy. Examples of this include diphenhydramine (the active ingredient in drugs like Benadryl) and doxylamine (commonly known under the brand name Unisom).

Herbs and supplements

Many herbs (chamomile tea) or supplements (antioxidants, minerals, vitamins) may help in treating sleeplessness. While many of these are common and well-known, it’s best not to assume that a herb or supplement is automatically safe for you. 

Mental healthcare

Because your mental health can greatly affect your ability to sleep, mental healthcare is one of the most effective ways to improve your sleep, either directly or indirectly. To enhance your mental well being you need to do activities which help you in relaxing both mentally and physically. Like you can play sport, go for swim, read, listen to music, meditate, go for a walk, hang out with people, etc 

Also read : Suffering From Neck Or Lower Back Pain? You Need To Check Out These Best Sleeping Positions

Insomnia is a household sleep disorder besides narcolepsy, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and others. One important aspect is that it is reversible in most of the cases because it is largely affected by lifestyle and habits in general. Overall, managing sleeplessness involves a combination of identifying and addressing underlying causes, adopting healthy sleep habits, and possibly seeking professional help for therapy or medication when necessary.

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Sonia Solanki

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Sonia Solanki

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